Hold On…Just a Little Longer

It seems like it’s been a lifetime since I last talked to you and in some ways it truly has been. So much in my life has changed and then changed again, so although there are lots of words waiting in the wings, I’m not really sure where to begin with all of it. There is a huge lesson in all of it though and that is, just when you think you cannot bear to deal with even one more thing, one more thing comes along and you fight your way through it. You take one more step toward your belief in yourself being re-established. You take one more step away from the expectations of others. It’s a scary place to be sometimes. Standing far, far outside the relative safety of your comfort zone and all that it entails.

As you take those first tentative baby steps, you find yourself having to hold on through one more mind bending explosion of disbelief. Hold onto all those emotions you’re feeling for just one more minute that turns into one more hour and one more day. Eventually, the days turn into weeks and then months have gone by with no sign of a light at the end of this journey. Your comfort zone is now far removed and you’re no longer sure it ever really was your zone of comfort. Rather it was a place in life where you simply settled because that’s what you thought you were supposed to do. That’s the place you were supposed to be. That’s the place where it was best for all concerned if you just planted yourself and did not budge at all.

I would’ve never thought of running as something I was meant to do, or something I was supposed to do and certainly not something that was implanted in me to do. I’d always despised it before. Somehow though, running became my peace of mind and even that was taken from me and I found myself second guessing its necessity. Until the headaches and insomnia returned in full force. Oh yes my friends! Some people turn to drugs and alcohol or prescription medication to alleviate the stress of life and aid in their sleep cycles. I had been on prescription headache relief and sleep aids for two years before I really got serious with the amount of miles I ran every week. Once my mileage became a nice steady base of 30 miles a week it was like a veil was lifted, the insomnia was there one day and all of a sudden it was just gone. I could sleep! The headaches went away with only a few stragglers who held on…

Hold on for one more month. Do whatever you need to do. Tie a knot in that rope you’re holding onto for dear life and pray that it’s strong enough to keep you safe. Pray that it’s strong enough to keep you from tumbling back down into the hole you’ve spent these months crawling out of. Granted, it was a hole that I helped dig. Every time I turned my back on what I felt was right. Every time I compromised the boundaries I’d established for myself and our family. Every time I allowed someone in my life, an important someone no less, to make me feel as though balancing between my needs and that of the family was a selfish act. Is it selfish to take care of oneself? I say not! Everything that I’ve learned in the last 28 years of parenting has taught me that in order to be the BEST parent I can be I must take care of myself first.

What is it about being a mother that makes it okay for someone to come along and tell you that what you are doing is not enough? You are not enough. You are selfish. You cannot take time away from the “family” to replenish your soul because it’s not right. You cannot spend time with others who are of a like mind because they’re not your family and the entirety of your focus must be on just your family to the exclusion of all else. Oh, and just for good measure, while you’re being repeatedly told that these are all selfish acts, you have to put on this act of perfection for others. Nobody would believe you if you told them that you live with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Once the doors close and any temporary residents depart, the mask comes off, the joker goes away and the coldness arises from the depths. Sounds dramatic I know, but that makes it no less true. Hold on.

Just hold on. That’s what running ultras has taught me. Every mountain eventually tops out and then you are coasting back down again. When your legs tell you that they cannot possibly take another step that they’re too tired, you have to fight that feeling and keep moving. I had to keep moving forward and break out of the set expectations that were before me. Breaking out of those expectations meant breaking vows I’d made to God and that was a big deal to me. When one makes a vow to God you don’t simply break it without a lot of deep reflection and conversations with your God. How could I cleave our family in two and cause a huge disruption in our lives? Many nights of fitful sleep over the course of several years. I asked for guidance and none appeared. I prayed for strength and I received more trials.

On one particular day there was a moment when it all reached a very anti-climactic breaking point and I knew it was over. I prayed for a method to help me begin the process and within days I had my answer. The method was provided. I knew in that moment and every moment since that this action of breaking my vows was acceptable in the eyes of my God. You can call it coincidental or whatever you want to call it. I held on some more. This was just the beginning and it was not going to be without pain. How ironic is it that when you ‘fall in love’ there’s no pain with the butterflies in your belly, but when you find yourself disliking the person you were supposed to love through ‘thick and thin’ there is so much pain you’re not quite sure where it all comes from.

Pain. I learned all about this facet of life from a very early age and every step along my journey has only taught me more information about it. How deeply you can feel pain before it knocks out your other senses. How much pain you can tolerate before you just become numb to it all. Running taught me that pain is really an issue of mind over matter. Put it out of your mind then it no longer matters. Think about something else other than the pain and before you know it – you no longer feel the pain you once felt. This journey through the divorce process was very similar. There were days when I was in so much pain I did not know how I could possibly continue to move forward. I second guessed every single decision made.

Yes. I second guessed the decision. For those of you who know me personally this may come as a shock. Maybe, just maybe, I was overreacting. Maybe the problem was me and my way of thinking. There’s truth there you see. I was growing, branching out into other endeavors of life and felt as though I was not able to breathe or move without asking first for permission. Maybe comfortable was better than this struggle. If I just apologized and agreed with all that he’d wanted me to be, maybe we could save our marriage…..again. There was another side of me though that would not accept this. If our marriage was meant to be saved it would take two people wanting to do so not just one and I’d seen not a single sign from him that he was desirous of saving it.

Again there’s the correlation between running and life. Second guessing yourself and failing to follow through with your plan which then results in failing to accomplish the mission you set out for. I set the course, maintained the course and followed my heart as well as my mind along the way without deviation. It hurt. There were days when the pain was immeasurable. I missed……..wait. WHAT? What did I miss? The relative ease and comfort of knowing exactly what to expect from that particular rollercoaster is what I missed. Going around and around in circles, upside down and feeling as though my insides were being torn out by way of my heart is what I missed? Oh, there were good times too, but often they were simply bandaids to cover the wounds that had sunk in deep like a fish hook.

It’s over now. Finally. I can breathe and now learn what there is to discover about this person I’ve become and am becoming. There will still be pain and there are many more lessons left to learn, but I’m looking forward to the road ahead with our daughters. I’m looking forward to demonstrating for them that when you truly love someone there are sacrifices that need to be made, but they should never be of self belief. Hold on and be strong. Hold your course and love yourself enough to know that there is more to this life than what exists inside this little bubble of a comfort zone. Step outside of it and see the entirety of the world you’ve been looking at through your single, little window.

Life goes on….

Peace

~TLT

 

Serendipity

This is a long one so if you aren’t ready to read almost 3000 words you might want to look at a different blog post (race report)! 🙂

There! Finally, I was headed into the tree line about 10 or 15 minutes behind the very last person who started on time. Could I have started on time? Yes! Unfortunately for me, my brain took a detour before the start of the race as I was putting on all the layers of clothing I’d need to survive the cold, and I completely forgot to attach the timing chip to my ankle. Duh! Such a newbie mistake and one that cost me time. Time is a precious commodity out there when you are running against the clock!

Allow me to rewind the clock a little bit for you to the day prior. I had arranged to have a substitute take over my classroom for the afternoon so I could make the three – hour drive to Bandera. As luck would have it, my substitute did not show up which meant I had to wait a little bit longer before I could leave since it’s not prudent to leave a classroom full of fourth graders unsupervised. Luckily for me, I work with a fantastic group of people who covered down and took care of my class so I could leave!

Once I left work and loaded my race gear into the car, there wasn’t much else for me to worry about other than getting to the race site. Off I went to make the drive down there over the winding back – country roads of Central Texas. I knew once I arrived the only worry I’d have would be…..finishing what I started. How’s that possible you ask? Well, I’ll tell you! Not only do I have some of the best co-workers, I’m equally blessed to have a few close friends who are oftentimes more like my family than anything else. I was racing the clock to get there before the sun went down in order to get my race packet. There’s not much worse for me than driving to a new location, in the dark.

Except in this case, there is one thing worse than driving on unknown roads in the dark and that is arriving at the race location after dark to stand in the freezing cold waiting to get your race packet. I didn’t want to do that. Timing is everything! In fact, I could probably start this story much further back than simply the day prior and really set the stage, but I won’t bore you with all those details!

To make a long story short, I arrived before the sun went down, met my good friend John, retrieved my packet and listened to the race brief while trying to stay somewhat warm. You see, a cold front had settled into the region and though we are accustomed to their scattered arrivals, this one was a doozy and may have broken some records in the state of Texas. As soon as the race brief was over it was time to head to the camper for some of John’s tasty white chicken chili and wait for another runner to arrive from the Austin airport.

I have to tell you that there’s something wonderful about the simplicity of a friendship that allows you the ability to know, with absolute certainty that you don’t have to worry about anything. Running these events can be pretty stressful if you allow it to be which is kind of contrary to the entire purpose for me. Knowing that my singular purpose was just to finish this race that I’d trained five months for was more helpful than I can verbalize.

I mentioned the other runner John and I were waiting for. That other runner happened to be Gordon “Gordy” Ansleigh!! The father of endurance running and the originator of Western States Endurance Run was going to be sleeping in the same camper as me, a mere mortal! This had to be an epic weekend! I wasn’t sure how it was all going to go down but I knew that it would, without a doubt, be educational at the least.

Despite the excitement, I put my head down around 8:00 to relax and visualize finishing the race. I had no clue what I’d signed up for – only what I’d seen on the videos and word of mouth from my friends. This would come back to bite me later as the race progressed.

Race morning started off just fine without any hiccups at all. I woke up early, ate my breakfast…all the usual stuff. We arrived in plenty of time to sit in the nice warm truck and wait for the time to start. You see, it was about 18 or so degrees outside, so there was no way we were going to wait outside for the gun to go off!! At around 7:20 we got out of the truck to head to the start and place my well packed drop bags in their appropriate places and then get in line with all the others waiting to head up the hills and through the sotol cactus forest.

Everything was perfect until the gun went off and I started my watch, looked down and realized CRAP!! I forgotten my timing chip. Without the chip – there is no race! Back to the registration table I went!! Now you’re caught up..As I said, time is precious and things happen for a reason and all those other cliché’s we often hear and don’t think much about.

The great news is that the benefit of starting after everyone else already had was that I was forced to run MY pace. You see, when you start with the rest of the pack you tend to get sucked into running at the pace of those around you for as long as you can hang with them. This is NOT a good thing for someone like me who needs to keep their heart rate low for as long as possible.

This race sends you uphill pretty quickly so there’s not a whole lot of time to worry about pacing, though you can certainly expect the old ticker to get some good exercise. Due to the fact that I was far behind everyone else I was headed up Sky Island while the remainder of the field was headed down. This was a bit hairy at times since there wasn’t a whole lot of room to maneuver in spots. Imagine these human cannonballs barreling down this ankle breaking rocky landscape full of twists, turns, loose rock and trees while you are like a salmon swimming upstream going in the opposite direction.

Up and up I climbed then up and up some more until reaching one of the summits. What a spectacular view! I wanted to stop and absorb all the beauty, but I really did not want to mess around too long because, well like I said before, timing is critical. As I was hiking the up hills I caught up with some of the other runners, including Gordy who had stopped to take off some of his cold weather gear.

From the moment I passed him I made it my mission to remain ahead of him and not allow him to pass me!! It sounds slightly ridiculous to my own ears that I was making it my mission to not let this 60 something year old man get ahead of me, but I’d seen him in action at Rocky Raccoon 100 last year and knew he can make really good time on the trail.

It’s always a nice treat to meet up with others on the trail because chatting helps the miles go by so much faster sometimes than running solo. I am usually plugged into my music within the first mile but wanted to save my battery on my phone so I was thinking about my friends who talk about being in the MOMENT. Be right here, right now without tuning out via the music.

I played cat and mouse with several women off and on throughout the first half of the first loop. I only stopped at the aid stations long enough to top off my Tailwind with more of the same and grab a few pieces of something to eat. This too came back to bite me in the butt. I waited too long to start eating. It’s important to eat early and as often as your body will allow it because if your energy level gets too low it’s very difficult to come back with the same level of energy again.

By the time I saw John at the halfway mark of the loop at the Chapas aid station I was not a happy camper. I really felt like I bit off more than I could chew and was seriously underprepared for the terrain. Those hills chewed me up and spit me out like the rock dinosaurs that had left all those rocks for us to navigate. What I didn’t know at the time is that the hardest of the climbing was yet in front of me!! John did what he always does and laughed it off and told me that I would be just fine. Humph…

Shortly after that I ran into my old buddy Norma who I’d trained for Brazos Bend 100 with and hadn’t seen in over a year. It was good catching up. We went through this long field and she told me to save my energy for what was to come. WHAT? Oh yeah, there are some hella-hills that make our “hella-hill” on our home trails look like a baby hill. She was right too! These hills had steps built right into them, uh huh. Steps for giants and the grade……oh I don’t know – 17% maybe? Lemme assure you though that whatever they are in real numbers they FEEL 25% harder when you’ve already traversed approximately 24 miles and your quads are trashed.

No whining here though. I knew it was going to be a tough race for me. The first time up those enormous mounds of rock with Norma and several other women felt hard but manageable. Going down the other side was certainly interesting as well! Then you go through these mine fields (I kid you not!) of rock. It literally looks like a bomb went off and implanted all these rocks into the dirt and grass. Trip on one and find out! I promise it won’t move…nor will it feel the greatest either.

While we were moving I told Norma that there was no earthly way I was going to be back out for a second loop. HAH! Serendipity had other plans I think. Other than tripping on one of said rocks and pulling my hamstring enough to make me cuss….loudly there was no physical reason for me to stop. I was just being a baby and didn’t WANT to go up those hills again oh and it was going to be a night in the dark and cold too.

We pulled into Lodge, at the halfway mark (8 hours and 30 minutes later) and there was John with my headlamp just like I asked. He asked me what I needed or wanted and I told him I didn’t WANT to go back out. He basically laughed (again) at me and told me to stop being a baby (or something to that effect) and get back out there. So, after close to ten minutes (too long) messing around low and behold, there was Gordy pulling in. Dammit!

Out I went for the second loop thinking to myself, what just happened? Of course, John knew that once ON the loop I wouldn’t just stop – tricky guy he is and I kept thinking about Gordy catching/passing me. The section from Lodge to the first aid station (about 5 miles) went by much quicker the second time through and as I was trucking out after grabbing a quesadilla, here comes this young lady that I’d been back and forth with all day. She and I started chatting just outside that first stop. Rebecca is her name and as the fates would have it, we probably saved each other’s race!

You see, the trail running community is almost like a huge extended family. We all have strengths and weaknesses and though we will pray on weaknesses (like slowness), we also know that sometimes we need to lean on others to get the job done. I told Rebecca that I was simply aiming to finish that blasted course so if she wanted to pass to let me know and I’d let her by. Nope. She sat there (not literally!) in my back pocket while we chatted off and on and both grumbled about how hard the course was and how much we were hurting.

As night fell it seemed as though the aid stations were moved further away than they’d been the first time through. That was not the case for sure, but boy oh boy did it feel that way at times. I wasn’t cold or injured. The borrowed jacket (Thanks T2!!) and three shirts plus leggings, hats, neck gaiter and mittens kept me warm enough but my right hip was really bothering me and it hurt to move a certain way. We kept pushing. We jogged where we could and then walked the technical stuff. Pretty soon it was more hike than jog but Rebecca stayed with me.

At some point we started looking for the headlamps of other runners. They were like magnets pulling us forward and then we’d pass them and back into the dark we’d go. At some point I could tell Rebecca was really suffering with the cold. I asked her about her hands and she said that the two sets of gloves were doing nothing to keep her fingers warm. I told her to take her gloves off and put her hands into the neck gaiter I wasn’t yet wearing. That made her feel moderately better and on we went into the night.
I too was suffering but with nausea and knew from previous ultras that it was due to not enough calories going in and the body expending a great deal of energy to stay warm. At one of the aid stations I grabbed another quesadilla but couldn’t get it down without gagging so that went into the trash.

Somehow we made it to Chapas!! There was John!! I was quite happy to see his scruffy face I must say! We’ve been here before and he knew what he needed to do in order to get us to the finish. Once he is on a mission you’d be hard pressed to deter him from it. We chatted for a little while as I choked down some food and then the chatting stopped and we just moved. Every now and again we’d have a spurt of talking but by now it was freaking COLD. The long field prior to the twin sisters or whatever they’re called (I have my own name for them!) went by much faster in the dark and we made it to YaYa aid station.

I don’t remember much here but I do remember the volunteer who asked my name then took my hands in his warm ones and said something like, “You’re doing a great job!” as we were leaving. John gave me some hand warmers and those were a Godsend as well!!

Somehow, we made it to Last Chance aid station. Here, there was an angel!! The angel (volunteer) offered me a PANCAKE…freshly made with syrup and then, there were little strips of pure heaven to stuff inside the pancake…bacon!!! I really needed those calories and a texture other than noodles or quesadilla. True story – I really don’t even LIKE pancakes but that one was a little baby miracle!! We were now somewhere around 5 miles until the finish, but still had to traverse the toughest terrain.

I digress for a minute….at the halfway mark I’d asked John to meet me sooner than Chapas because (in my infinite wisdom) I told him that by the time I left Chapas the worst of the trail was over and I wouldn’t NEED him……Hmmm…good thing he didn’t listen to my idiocy. Now, back on track….

My vision kept doubling and my feet continually tripped over the rocks that the dinosaur bomb had exploded all over the place; the moon seemed as though it had a double rainbow colored halo and was stalking us through the wood line and I was thinking…..absolutely nothing. It was a matter of just moving that much closer to the finish line.

I was still attempting to jog when the path was not strewn with jagged rocks but for the most part I was just working at staying within eyesight of John’s back and moving as fast as my legs would go. The climbs now were so difficult for my quads to manage I kept slipping and guess who was there to offer a hand to keep me from tumbling back down the daggone rocks and cracking my dome….that’s right. My friend. He was there on the way down the slippery slope made of icy rock debris, acting as a human break so I didn’t break my neck as well. A human speed bump he was! What a guy! 🙂

Nineteen hours and thirty minutes later we crossed that finish line and I was handed that beautiful, shiny belt buckle that signifies so much more than just this one race. Serendipity my friends…

I’d apologize for the length but guess what, I’m not going to. If you made it this far – Thank you for reading!

Until next time friends

~Peace

TLT

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anniversaries

An anniversary is so much more than simply a date on the calendar and when I hear people say that they married their best friend I wonder.

I wonder how it is that one can be just a best friend to someone who sees you at your very worst and loves you even though it hurts. I wonder how it is that one can be just a best friend to someone who sees you at your very best and loves you beyond life long tests.

I used to be envious of those couples who seem so in love whenever I saw them out and about but then I remembered what goes on behind closed doors is shrouded in clouds.I wonder how someone can love me for who I really am, if even I don’t know who that person is. I wonder how someone can love me through the good and the bad, when sometimes it seems that bad is all there is to be had.

It seems to me that saying one is married to their best friend may be undercutting the height to which love transcends. Marriage must transcend it all through the thick and the thin; through the times of financial struggle and times of ease; through the times of illness and of health. Yet those are only words we speak because when the line is drawn in the proverbial sand, you have to make a choice as to which side of life you will stand.

There are no easy answers and no instructions to follow, whether you are flying high as an eagle or drowning in a pool of sorrow. How will you manage to hold true to your words when they’re left tasting bitter on your lips? Why would you want to leave the person who steadies your emotions with just a hand on your hip?

A decade plus of marriage surely must show you how much you truly do not know this person you have married for better or for worse. Almost two decades of communication between the two surely must indicate that there is so much left to learn. There are choices to be made daily. That’s right I said, there are choices that have to be made – daily. As a wise woman recently said, life is all about choices and when we fail to make a choice that is a choice in itself.

Being married to another person is a study in patience, understanding and stamina to name but a few. When I am out among the trees, I am reminded of the likeness between my love of running and that of marriage.

There are hills to climb and as my friend Doug once told me, you are fighting yourself climbing those hills. Just go with the flow, he said, in his infinite wisdom. Take smaller steps and don’t work so hard. Being married is that way when every step feels like quicksand trying to pull you under to flounder in your misery. Quicken your steps, lighten the load and before you know it you feel as though you are once again floating along effortlessly.

I ask God to help me bite my tongue and guide my words daily. You see, some degree of faith in a power greater than me is necessary to trudge my way through when times are tough and the going is slow. There are things in this world I believe that only He knows. We make the plans but he sets the path and once again this is similar to running a race. We make plans to complete this race or that. We follow our plans and aim for a successful conclusion but sometimes there are lessons to be learned in the falling down and failing.

Anniversary is but a simple word that really means so much more….

What you See…Is what You Get

It’s been 24 days since the 100 mile run I showed up for ended prematurely at 40 miles due to an injury, and although I have my head wrapped around the necessity of dropping it’s been a rough few weeks. You all hear the words and see the catchy hashtag of “the struggle is real”. We pay lip service to the issue of depression and the resulting suicide rate amongst our service members. We make jokes and pass judgment.

I’m here to tell you as someone who has battled that demon most of their adult life and has loved ones who are doing the same, depression on any scale is no laughing matter. What does depression have to do with running you may ask. It has a LOT to do with it in my case and that of many others I know and am proud to call my tribe. You see, running is not simply a physical act of quickly moving one foot then the other in a forward motion. Although we are, obviously, performing physical exercise that’s not the whole story.

There’s more to the story of running, for most of us, than simply the physical act. It calms us with the release of various neuro-chemicals. It stimulates other hormones and body chemicals to help us better cope with stress. We feel better about life in general when we are able to run. The inability to run has the same effect on a runner as does not being able to drink coffee on a habitual coffee drinker. Neither of which are pleasant.

As most of my friends will attest, I’m not an overly bubbly person to begin with. I’m not one of those women who walks around with an ever present smile on their face. I am one of those people who, if I know you, tends to say whatever I think needs to be said (within reason), and this often means that I say the things nobody else will for fear of hurting feelings. It’s not my goal, of course, to hurt anyones feelings and I do think about what I say before I say it, but I’m not one for mincing words. All of that to say that I am pretty much an open book. What you see is definitely what you get.

Since I am an open book, not being able to run without pain means that in 24 days I’ve ran TWICE….and neither time without pain. Was it successful? Who knows!! The question is, did I feel better afterwards…..? Absofreakinlutely!! Unfortunately for me, and those who are forced to live with me, running is the only form of physical exercise I’ve found that releases all the tension, eases the inner monster and helps my ‘politically correct’ filter remain in place for one more day. It also eases the feelings of depression that seem to pop in for an uninvited visit for no good reason. The struggle to maintain mental equilibrium is very real friends.

My life is perfect: I have a long-term relationship with my husband, a home, healthy children, beautiful grandchildren, wonderful pets aka fur-babies, honest and challenging employment and my own health to name but the top of the list of all I am thankful for. This does not mean that depression has no reason to reside here, since it does not seem to NEED a reason. That’s the real point dear ones. It just IS…What you see…IS what you get.

Until next time friends…

Peace

~TLT

Be Your Own Champion!

As I was grinding out 28 miles on the trail today I had an epiphany of sorts. This is often the case but usually by the time I get home and showered, I have forgotten what that AHA moment was. Today, I remember because this topic hits close to home.

For most of my younger years (20’s – late 30’s) I kept wondering why I felt unfulfilled much of the time. There were highs and of course, the inevitable lows but generally, I just felt like there was something missing from my life. The girls came along in my mid and late 30’s and things began to click in my mind I suppose. Now, with birthday 45 knocking on the door, only a month away, it’s fitting that I had a realization.

I have been looking for validation from OTHERS! I have been seeking someone to be my champion. A special kind of someone who knows me better than anyone else and has the ability to lift me up when I am down. This person would provide unconditional love and SUPPORT, regardless of whether they understand my crazy inner drive, or not. Unfortunately, while I was searching for this nonexistent person, life rolled on and the years have passed by.

Fortunately, today I came to the realization that I MUST be my own champion!! I have to be happy with my own inner voice and the support it provides. We cannot count on the support of others – not always. Even those of us who are in committed relationships (married or otherwise) need to be able to stand on our own two feet and know, without a doubt, that we are satisfied with who WE are as people. We cannot wait around for the applause of others because you know….we may be waiting with bated breath for that support and applause until the day we die because some people are unwilling or unable to provide what it is we seek.

Being married does not mean that your spouse really NEEDS to understand your drives, needs and desires, only that we wish they would. If they won’t or don’t know how then it is necessary to have enough BELIEF in oneself to carry on regardless of the fact that they have fallen below our expectations. You see, that’s really the crux of this whole issue of which I speak. Our expectations can be lousy little demons in our heads. They create this inner dialogue that tells us we should be unhappy with what we are receiving from our partner because they refuse to be our champion.

It’s okay!! They no longer have the responsibility of being your champion if you do it yourself!! See how easy that is? Believe in yourself so you can make yourself happy with what is going on in your life. You make the decisions to make your life happen in the way that creates YOUR kind of happiness and then they will do the same. We cannot change anyone and we should  not expect them to be what they are obviously NOT. Allow them the space to be what they are without an expectation that they were created to fulfill you. They were NOT!

Ask God for guidance and follow your dreams….Be your own CHAMPION!!

Until next time!

Peace

~TLT

Training….again

Yep! Here we go again with the training for another 100 mile effort in the search for the unholy grail….or rather another belt buckle. Unlike the last time I trained when everyone knew what I was up to, I’ve kept my plans a little more quiet. There have been many more solo runs this time and this may be one of the most important differences between the two training periods.

Actually, the training cycle is about HALFWAY complete with race day only 6 1/2 weeks away!! EEEEEKKK! I feel stronger for the most part because unlike training for Brazos Bend 100, I am doing speed work and training through the fall and winter is completely different than training through the horribly hot, soul sucking heat of Texas in the summer. I’m also following the plan of someone else this time rather than trying to make it up on my own. Tough to be the person who strives for control…that makes a CHOICE to seek advice from someone else on how to do this thing better!

This brings me to the real reason why I sat to write this piece tonight, while the house is absolutely silent for once. Control and the counsel of others. These are subjects that often ring true for many of us who make the decision to run these long distances. We seek to control all the many variables of our lives only to find that there is so much yet completely and utterly OUT of our control. Much to our chagrin and often extreme dismay we cannot control everything no matter how much we think we have it all sewn into a nice tight little bundle.

On the other hand, as we search out the perfect 100 mile endurance event to participate in, listen to the guiding wisdom of others, plan our race down to the most minute detail and otherwise engage in the planning of everything from what we will wear to how long we shall sit (or not) at each aid station, it all boils down to one thing….how much of what happens is truly out of our control and that there is only ONE thing we can control on any given day, race days included…to continue to put one foot in front of the other and keep truckin’.

Listening to the wisdom of others has never been my strong suite, however I have found that there are some people out there who I just GET. For instance, I just finished watching Ethan Newberry aka The Ginger Runner in his film about his very first 100 mile race and am currently reading a book by Ed Ayres called The Longest Race. Both of these men have much to teach, no matter how inadvertently, about how best to get through the journey of a foot race of 100 miles. They are not the only ones who will go with me on this journey to once again do the unthinkable, reach the unreachable and control the uncontrollable…There are some other men and a few women as well who are part of this tribe of people who run and that I look up to and whose words of wisdom I hold dear during those dark moments when the going gets tough.

I listen to my friend Mike who tells me, “Don’t think, just move!” and another friend Doug who assures me that this too shall pass and all I have to do is keep moving forward…relentless forward progress. John, more like my brother now, always there with a steady stare and strong words of encouragement – “You got this”, he tells me. I remember the wit and energy of JoAnna who shares my middle name and has an unshakable will. Even the beautiful daughters I’ve helped create, lift me up with their courage and their love….

The list, my friends, could go on and on. You see, although many of these people will not be on my next journey in person to bear witness to the power of will, they will be there in my mind. There’s no way that any of us can make it on this journey all by ourselves. We take with us all the power and encouragement of everyone we meet. During those moments when our body tells us that there’s no possibility of making it move forward for even another foot, we take the power of the words and use it fan the fire to propel us forward once again.

There is plenty of dark energy, negative matter that floats around inside our mind which tells us that there’s no way we can do this…again. All the negativity of the well-meaning around us who say they have no understanding of WHY we’d want to punish ourselves this way. It’s unhealthy to run 100 miles. You are selfish for putting your family through the pain of seeing you in pain afterwards when your body is completely wrecked…..All the negativity in the world and it serves absolutely ZERO purpose so rather than give in to it, find a way to use it. Use the negative as another source of fire to keep you moving on the darkest path when nobody is around to see your tears…That’s my goal.

The countdown has begun and the journey of 100 miles begins with one single step…

Until next time friends….

~PEACE

 

Identification

During this time off from all the running I tend to do, there has been a lot of time for me to THINK….about running! Hah! Funny isn’t it? Anyhow, I realized the other day after several conversations with other friends who run – WE ARE RUNNERS. Seems simple right? There is more to it than that however.

When we are running we are thinking or talking about running and other facets of our lives that pertain to running or training for this event or another; we are speaking in short sentences about what kinds of foods we eat to make us better runners (we hope); we are laughing about the most recent escapade we encountered on the trail when we ate something in the previous 24 hours that we really should NOT have; we are planning out loud or with our running friends the events we are signed up to run next or those which we would give a leg or at least a few toenails TO run…

We are not thinking about the bills that need paying, the kids that won’t stop crying or stomping on our very last nerve; the car that needs repairs, the assignment for school or work that needs completion……or perhaps we are thinking of these aspects of our running lives but if so it is taking place behind the lines of all the stuff going on inside our brains that pertains to running. Sometimes, all I can think about is the next breath, the next step, watch that nasty trail troll  – you know it’s going to try to trip you; don’t run so closely to ND’s heels; don’t run too far behind – you will never catch up. Most recently running solo the thoughts are mostly – arrrgh this sucks getting back the base I lost from NOT running due to injury.

What does this have to do with the title: identification? Great question! We ARE runners….5K’s, 10K’s, half-marathon, full marathon, 50K, 100K…and 100 milers, plus – we run. That is not only WHAT we do but is also one way we identify WHO we are. I’ve truly enjoyed this sense of belonging to a community of brethren I’ve not really experienced since I left the military over a decade ago. These people, runners, are a different lot – especially those who tend to run the trails rather than the road. What a great breed of people!! Most of them are truly in touch with their person-hood and who they ARE as people. They will give you the shirt off their backs, sometimes literally…it’s a brotherhood I identify with to a great deal!

For someone who has always and forever felt like an outsider looking in at all the other so called, “normal” people, it’s been a relief to feel as though I belong somewhere! Unfortunately, the last (almost) 6 weeks has left me bereft of their company – this family of runners! I’ve been out of the game due to an injury that truly began about 5 weeks prior to the start of the 100 mile run I completed on December 14 and was further exacerbated during that particular expedition into another realm of my psyche.

This absence from my ‘tribe’ of other runners has left me feeling backwards in more ways than I care to recount! When you start feeling like you are important, meaningful in this life and your head swells a bit because of your success…….take a 6 week break away from that ONE thing that makes you feel FREE. Take 6 weeks away from friends who are oftentimes more like distant siblings and only converse with them half a dozen times over the course of those 6 long weeks – mostly via electronic communication with very little actual ‘face’ time. Tell me how you feel then!

I can tell you it has left me with a changed perspective! It has also made me realize how much I identify myself with all those folks in my tribe…..as RUNNERS. It is not only what I do but it is part of who I am. It is not another hat I wear like: teacher, trainer, accountant, housekeeper, mother….etc., rather it is a part of who I AM. This body that has always felt too heavy, too ‘thick’, too big…..too slow….to be a runner – fits into this tribe just fine as who I AM as a runner…and as a person. A person who also happens to be a runner and a mother, wife and all those other titles life throws at us….

Be careful with how much you identify with any one thing in life for it will define who you are unless you define yourself…..WHO ARE YOU?

My, not so random, thoughts for the day! Until next time….

Peace